UAE begins start-up operations at first nuclear power plant

Plant will deliver 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity with zero carbon emissions.

Saturday 01/08/2020
A 2019 file picture of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
A 2019 file picture of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi. (AFP)

DUBA – The United Arab Emirates has begun start-up operations in the initial unit of its first nuclear power plant, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said on Saturday.

The Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi, a major oil producer, is being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)..

ENEC said its subsidiary Nawah Energy Company “has successfully started up Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafrah Region of Abu Dhabi.”

UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, wrote on Twitter that nuclear fuel had been loaded into the first of four units of what he called “the first peaceful nuclear energy reactor in the Arab world.”

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), which issued an operating licence for the plant in February, said Nawah met all regulatory requirements to start operations, after regular inspections and oversight to ensure the plant’s safety.

When completed Barakah will have four reactors with 5,600 megawatts (MW) capacity. The UAE has not disclosed the total planned investment in the project.

The start-up of Unit 1 marks the first time that the reactor safely produces heat, which is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity, said Emirati news agency WAM.

“After several weeks and conducting numerous safety tests, Unit 1 will be ready to connect to the UAE’s electricity grid, delivering the first megawatts of clean electricity to the homes and businesses of the Nation, ” it added.

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, said: “Today is a truly historic moment for the UAE. It is the culmination of more than a decade of vision, strategic planning and robust program management.”

“Through the realisation of the vision of our Leadership, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has become an engine of growth for the Nation. It will deliver 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity with zero carbon emissions while also supporting economic diversification by creating thousands of high-value jobs through the establishment of a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and supply chain,” he added.